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Kieran Sandwell avatar
Kieran Sandwell

A Trail of Two Hearts

Walking 5000 miles around the coast of Britain for British Heart Foundation because My 2nd heart is an incredible gift worth sharing

67 %
£6,777.00
raised of £10,000 target
by 218 supporters
Donate

British Heart Foundation

We power research into heart disease to beat the UK’s single biggest killer

Story

Seven years after transplantation, I am setting myself the challenge to raise £10,000 for the British Heart Foundation by walking 5000 miles around the coastline of Britain. I am an adult survivor of congenital heart disease but eventually, aged 38, my own battle-scarred heart failed. My 2nd heart is a gift of kindness that I want to share with everyone. Please donate and help me support BHF ground-breaking research.

On 1st of Febuary 2017, I will set off from BHF offices in London and walk anticlockwise around the coast of Britain. Averaging 15-20 miles a day, this will take me 326 days. Here's why.....

My name is Kieran and I have two very different lives, with two different hearts.

Heart 1 - I was born in 1970 with congenital heart disease. My heart defect was called Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) I had open heart surgery (aged 3), Endocarditis (7), Heart attack (13), Mini strokes (21), Many life threatening arrhythmia (28+), Defibrillator fitted (35)
This poor heart lasted 38 years of which the last ten years were in end stage heart failure. Towards the end of that life, the simple task of making a cup of tea and bringing it back to the living room made me so tired and breathless that I sometimes fell asleep before drinking it. I was put on the transplant list being told my cardiac output was 11% and without a transplant, I had a 50/50 chance of surviving two years.

Then on 31st July 2009, the kindness of a complete stranger and her family, combined with the expert skills at Papworth Hospital gave me a chance of a new life - life number two. My heart transplant was a complete success and I left the hospital after 17 days with a spring in my step.

Heart 2 - In the seven years years since transplantation,  I returned to work, walked two marathons, danced the night away many times, bounced up and down in the front row of gigs and completed a 100 mile sponsored walk. I then started to run  (because I could!) and got a place in the London Marathon 2012. It was incredible  to think that just 997 days earlier, I couldn't walk to the end of the road and here I was, running marathons!  I ran it and again in 2014 (for fun) and also completed a 10,000 ft parachute jump too! Walking, dancing, bouncing, running, flying - he difference is truly amazing.

I decided to donate my heart for British Heart Foundation funded research. I had met Dr Sonia Babu-Narayan years ago while taking part in her research into congenital heart disease and was followed up at different stages as my heart declined. 

Actually having my old heart, allowed her to confirm that the previous MRI scans had accurately identified scarring in the heart. Heart scarring can be a source of life-threatening arrhythmia, so identifying it accurately is vital when making decisions about clinical care for patients with heart conditions like mine.

I actually met my old heart recently when Sonia and her team allowed me to visit it and say Hi !! It was a very special moment and it was humbling that all the time I have been looking after my new, there were people looking after my old one. It will remain there for educational purposes forever. 

This research really does save lives and by supporting me on my journey round the coast you will be helping to improve the lives of babies born with heart defects, find the genes that cause inherited heart conditions and one day find a cure for heart failure and heart disease.

"Turn left a Southend, left at John O'Groats, left at Cape Wrath, left at Lands End and then left at Dungerness." Sounds easy!!!


Thank you for your support

Kieran

More info here:

https://youtube/vstZ1566zBk

https://medium.com/british-heart-foundation/life-with-a-hidden-illness-the-journey-of-a-man-and-his-heart-cdd2fd6e116c#.jon4cy9h6


Photos

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  • End stage heart failure mobility scooter fun! +9

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